Box office preview: Divide and conquer

That’s the studio strategy this week as three major releases with large and divergent natural constituencies hit movie theaters. All three movies are expected to do rather well by the folks whose job it is to guess these things, as evidenced by the small amount of daylight between the predictions showcased this week by the L.A. TimesBen Fritz and THR‘s ever jolly Carl DiOrio.

I don’t think there’s any reason at all to doubt that the family audience, which hasn’t had a new 3D animated comedy in a while to gawk at, will check out “Megamind.” Featuring the voices of Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Brad Pitt, and Jonah Hill, the film is the second of these comedies this year to focus on a putative villain after “Despicable Me.” This one takes a more superpowered spin with a pretty obvious spoof on the Superman mythos. Reviews are decent but muted, but the take is expected to be a very solid $50 million or so, which is not so muted.

Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Gallifianaki have a The reviews are substantially less positive for “Due Date,” which is to youngish men what “Megamind” is to families. I remember being unimpressed for the trailer for the new comedy from Todd Phillips starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Gallifianakis, but apparently the sheer star power and the tried and true comic premise of a mismatched twosome on a road trip seems to be enough here for the R-rated comedy to get something in the $30-35 million neighborhood. Personally, however, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it under-perform. Star power just isn’t what it used to be these days and this is clearly not a second coming of Phillips’ “The Hangover.”

With a cast that includes Thandie Newton, Phylicia Rashad, Janet Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg and the Oprah herself, “For Colored Girls” is pretty clearly for African-American women as far as studio marketers are concerned. Based on the acclaimed  poetry-based play of the 1970s by Ntozake Shange (full title: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf), the movie is not getting much acclaim from critics, who once again are none too fond of Perry’s penchant for melodrama, though many do seem to be given Perry credit for at least trying something different this time around. On the one hand, Tyler Perry’s fans are clearly unconcerned about critics, on the other, this is a very different kind of material than Perry’s usual. An amount of $20 million is being bandied about. In any case, one has to wonder what feminist author Shange makes of this excerpt from Carl DiOrio’s piece:

“In addition to Tyler’s core audience, we’re going after fans who are familiar with the play,” Lionsgate distribution topper David Spitz said. “We feel this could be the Sex and the City for African-American women.”

With Oscar season upon us, a number of notable films are coming up in limited release, including the Valerie Plame spy scandal film “Fair Game,” the fainting-inducing mountain climbing ordeal picture, “127 Hours,” and the Elliot Spitzer ordeal documentary, “Client Nine.” Notable for being both good and probably not having a chance in hell at an Oscar, however, is “Red Hill” which I’m not mentioning here not just because we were granted interviews with the director and star, though that never hurts, I admit shamefacedly.

Ryan Kwanten and Steve Bisley in

  

You can follow us on Twitter @moviebuffs and on Facebook as well.

Related Posts

Hell’s Kitchen: why this season is different

Season 7 of “Hell’s Kitchen” is a bit different. Because as we plow on through it, and I do mean plow, there are some things that have made this season unique. Mainly, it’s been unpredictable. Those who we thought were contenders (Ed) and those we thought were non-factors (Autumn) have proved us wrong. Even Ben showed last night his days are likely numbered and he can’t possibly win. And oh yeah, there is a blatant romance budding here between Holli and Jay. Big time. The clips for next week show Ramsay putting his foot down about said romance, so that should be interesting.

Anyway, we’re almost at the finale, and this show kicked off June 1…so Fox is trying to get it over with before Season 8 begins in September. Yes, that’s right. Season 8 is already in the can, too. I wonder how many more are in production, because the show is, despite the twists this season, getting really stale really fast.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Related Posts

Friday film news dump, pre-Halloween edition

christopherlee

So much going on today that, unless my Google Reader is lying to me, not a single one of the many film sites and blogs on my list of usual suspects has mentioned that Christopher freaking Lee was knighted today. (I, however, will be paying my respects in the next post.)

Meanwhile….

* The biggest news of the day was expected, I guess. The New York offices of the once might mini-major Miramax, founded by Harvey and Bob Weinstein and since sold off to Disney, have been closed and the annual slate of films significantly downsized. In addition, the division’s “prexy” Daniel Battsek is stepping down, though he is supposed to be supervising the consolidation of the NYC and L.A. offices through January and no replacement has been set. Not surprising in tough times for “small” films. Anne Thompson partially blames what you might call movie mission creep, among other factors.

The main problem with the studio sub-divisions that are being slashed if not eliminated is that they simply don’t return enough on investment. They inevitably drift away from small-scale divisions that push low-budget films into more ambitious upscale operations with more employees and more overhead. With growth comes bigger budgets, more P & A, wider releases, more grandiose Oscar campaigns and often, smaller profits.

Her entire piece is definitely worth a look as she mentions how even some seemingly successful award pictures as “There Will Be Blood” and “Doubt” became money losers or earned less than you might think due to marketing costs and award campaigns.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Related Posts

Renew! Renew!

No, I’m not reminding you about your subscription to Better Homes and Gardens but merely suggesting that you check out Glenn Kenny‘s amusing post today about “Logan’s Run,” Jenny Agutter, and a certain key moment in the lives of young males in the days of a more forgiving MPAA. And, though I still a bit punchy after my epic look at the Scream Awards yesterday (which I’m still correcting punctuation errors and typos in), there is movie news to recount as second, third and fourth lives for news stories seem to be the theme of the day.

logans_run_001

* Setting  a movie going record shouldn’t be too hard to pull off if you’re one of the world’s most famous, talented, and bizarrely controversial pop stars and the memory of your unexpected death is still fresh in everyone’s mind. It’s even easier if you open your movie on a Tuesday. However, it sure seems that critics and audiences mostly agree that “This is It” delivers the goods and that the Jackson shows really would have been remarkable. Given all that, I think we can agree that yesterday’s $2.2. million is only the beginning.

I also want to direct your attention to Roger Ebert’s extremely positive review in which he wonders aloud about Jackson’s ability to perform on an extremely high level while apparently shot full of drugs. Frequent readers of Ebert will have long sensed that addiction is a topic he has some first-hand experience with (he confirmed it recently when he came out as a recovering alcoholic), so this is an especially poignant read.

* I meant to post this on Monday, but Joe Mozingo of the L.A. Times put together a pretty excellent run-down on the entire Roman Polanski debacle. I have some relatively minor differences with certain aspects of the article, but on the whole this is the best round-up of the actual information on the case that I’ve read and is appropriately tough and factual. One interesting fact that I’d actually forgotten in all this: the victim herself has said on television of the crime that “It wasn’t a rape.” You can speculate on her reasons for saying that, but perhaps people should have been a bit less hysterical in their criticism of Whoopi Goldberg over her notorious statement. You’d think she’d committed “rape-rape,” when a certain amount of confusion about this case is actually pretty natural. My single favorite word in this piece: “alleged.”

* Another story that keeps renewing, Variety gives us the upside of ten Best Picture nominees and a second life for lesser known classic era Univerasl horror flicks too. Very nice.

* Anne Thompson argues for a second chance and a “serious release” for “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.” I’m not a fan of the original movie, but she makes Werner Herzog’s more humorous take sound infinitely preferable to the rather pretentious original by Abel Ferrara.

* Speaking of second chances, the inspired comedy of “Black Dynamite” is in bad, bad trouble. It’s not just the man keeping it down, it’s sheer ignorance. See the damn movie, folks. In any case, if you wait much longer, you might not get to see it in a theater at all. That would straight up suck. And remember, we all deserve a second chance.

I’m still not sure what a kid from Hawaii was doing in South Central that fateful night, but you get the point.

  

Related Posts

TCA Tour, Day 3: “Head Games”

I walked into the panel for the Science Channel’s new game show, “Head Games,” with considerable excitement. In earlier drafts of the schedule for the TCA Press Tour, we’d been told that the show’s executive producer, Whoopi Goldberg, would not be in attendance, but somewhere along the line, plans changed and Goldberg apparently decided that she would be able to make it to Pasadena. I’m still very much the kind of critic who gets excited about big names being in attendance for the tour, and although Whoopi might not have been the most famous Comic Relief host to turn up that day (a few hours later, Robin Williams had a panel for his upcoming HBO stand-up special), c’mon, she’s still Whoopi! Plus, the host of “Head Games” is Greg Proops, and I’ve been a fan of his since his days as a regular on the original British version of “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?”

So why, then, did I walk away disappointed?

Because, frankly, Whoopi was a grouch.

Believe me, I’m still very excited about the series itself, and it’s impossible not to get behind Whoopi’s personal mission to inspire more people, especially women and girls, to share her love of learning, but did she really have to start out by insulting us?

“I’m sure most of you had no idea that if you put a gummi bear in a test tube, what would happen to it,” she said. “I’m pretty sure none of you knew that a flea can jump with a velocity higher, faster than a shuttle. Now, you can sit there and be cool because I know you’re all from L.A., but you didn’t know this, and you know you didn’t.”

Well, I’m not from L.A., so maybe that’s why I did know the thing about the flea. But when someone tried to remind her that quite a lot of people in the room weren’t actually from L.A., she replied, “Wherever you’re from, you were not into this, but I want you to be into this now.” Why all the insistence that we’re not into science? Is it really so hard to believe that TV critics might actually have interests outside of television?

What really got me, though, was her rather snippy response to a question that was clearly intended to be funny. Someone asked her which member of the “View” team could most do with a lesson in science from “Head Games,” and she replied, “I am not here…you know what? I know that’s supposed to be a provocative question, but I’m here to talk about my science show, which is separate from ‘Whoopi Goldberg, producer.'” A beat. “Also, Academy Award winner, Grammy winner…”

I guess you have to give her some credit: it’s not easy to make a joke within seconds of seeming to have no sense of humor.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Related Posts